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License plate winners delay purchases

2011-07-21 07:55

BEIJING - Li Chenguang does not rush decisions like buying a new car. After being named a winner in the capital's so-called license-plate lottery, he has spent months researching makes and models.

It seems he is not the only one. According to official statistics cited by Beijing media, as of July 1 just 35 percent of all 600,000 people who have received registrations since the first draw in January have gone on to purchase vehicles.

One transport expert argues the proportion is so small that stricter rules are needed to prevent winners wasting the chance to buy a car.

"I'm not anxious to buy a car, because I didn't consider the car's color and type much before the lottery," Li said on Wednesday. "I wouldn't think about a car if I didn't have the opportunity to buy one. I'm also waiting for a fall in prices."

The 24-year-old telecom company employee, who got his license plate in May, added that some of his friends also only chose their car's make and model after winning the lottery.

Winners have six months to buy a car and activate their licenses. Yet, as the first batch of successful entrants approaches the deadline, almost 80 percent still have not signed on the dotted line, according to data in Beijing Daily attributed to city authorities.

Wang Limei, secretary-general of China Road Transport Association, an influential NGO, said this kind of behavior could reduce the chances of people who may desperately need to buy a vehicle.

China Daily was unable to contact Wang on Wednesday, but in an interview with Beijing News she called for the municipal government to shorten the time winners have to buy from six months to one. Those who fail to buy should be banned from entering the lottery for two years, she added.

Li agreed with the proposal for a two-year restriction, but did not agree that the buying time be limited to one month.

"It isn't reasonable, because the buying procedures won't be finished during that period, and people can't choose a better car in such a short time," he added.

However, unsuccessful entrants complained about behavior like Li's and said they hoped those restrictions will be put in place.

A woman surnamed Sang, 40, who did not want to be identified, said her application in March for a license plate had failed, and she thought residents who won but did not buy cars should be penalized.

"They wasted other participants' time and opportunities. It is unfair for residents like me," she said in support of Wang's suggestion.

"Traffic authorities should improve regulations for car buyers quickly and I will follow the news about car purchases in the future."

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